All freedivers should use a freediving buoy and line in order to protect not only themselves, but other freedivers as well. Without these two essential pieces of equipment you are limiting your growth as freediver and jeopardizing your safety. In this article, we will discuss the benefits of using a freediving float and line as well as our recommendations for the best ones.
Why Should I use a Freediving Buoy & Line?
There are four major benefits that a dive buoy provides.
Comfort: Freediving buoys serve as resting areas between dives
Without a freediving buoy to provide you with a safe place to rest between dives, you are constantly depleting your stamina. No matter how fit you are, diving without a buoy means you are constantly treading water as you’re “resting”.
You will be surprised at how much valuable energy you are wasting, and this can result in your muscles fatiguing which will prevent you from finning effectively (and dive deeply).
Even worse than having tired muscles, being exhausted means you may lack the energy to resurface, or to stay afloat long enough to swim back to shore, increasing your chances of drowning.
Furthermore, by treading water, you are not allowing your O2 levels to fully replenish between dives, and this lack of oxygen may lead to a deadly shallow water blackout. For these reasons alone, you should get yourself a freediving buoy and line to improve your performance and safety while freediving.
Visibility: Freediving buoys let boats know someone is close by
Think about this: how is someone speeding around on a boat supposed to know where you are and avoid you if you suddenly surface right in front of them without any warning? It’s no wonder that so many boats are colliding into divers over the years, severely injuring them at a minimum, or outright killing them at worst.
With this thought in mind, you should begin to understand how important it is to let others know that you’re currently underwater and that you can surface at any time. With the freediving buoy and flag, boats will know to avoid that around, and thus prevent a potential collision.
For this reason, freediving floats are designed to stand out. Bright, fluorescent yellow, red, or orange are common colors you will find ona dive buoy. These colors are easy for boat operators to spot from a distance, and will save your life.
If you decide to freedive in the open waters without bringing a dive buoy with you, you’re essentially rolling the dice each time you surface and praying that you won’t be face to face with a boat that’s about to pulverize your face.
Safety: Freediving lines can be attached to a buoy
When freediving, you should be attached to a freediving line or at least use one to guide you to the surface. Being underwater can be disorienting. Having a line to assist you will help you get a feel for your diving depth, but also orient you in the right direction.
If you freedive without a line, you can easily get swept away by underwater currents or get lost, never to reach the surface again. “This actually happens to people?” you might be thinking. Yes, it even happens to the best of the best, so don’t think it won’t affect you. Freediving is already a relatively dangerous sport, but lines and buoys make them so much safer.
Storage: Keep small, useful accessories in buoys
Any decent buoy will have some storage space to hold your first aid kit, torch, or a cellphone (it needs to be kept in a waterproof bag or casing, naturally). This is so good for improving quality-of-life and may prove to be vital during emergency situations.
Rather than leaving a bunch of valuables or other small items by the shore or in your car, just bring them with you and store them in the dive buoy. You can also tie your freediving equipment such as dive booties, spare fins, snorkels, or dive weights to it. Overall, it’s convenient and a huge time saver.
The four reasons mentioned in this section should highlight how risky it is to freedive without a buoy and line. For a sport that is already inherently risky, it would be wise to invest in these two pieces of equipment to drastically improve your quality of life and safety.
Now that you know that you should get yourself a freediving float and line, the next question is which ones, and what criteria should you look for?
Best Freediving Buoys and Lines Review
Whether you are a beginner or professional, a freediving buoy is essential for all freedivers in open water. There are various models to select from depending on your particular needs and diving style. Here are our top picks.
Sopras Sub FreeDiver Buoy
The Sopras Sub Freediver Buoy Instructor Float is one of the top freediving floats on the market for good reason. It provides everything a freediver needs, making it a safe and effective freediving buoy. Here’s why you should get it.
Sturdy: Low-quality, cheap buoys have no weight to them and they float like a glorified balloon on top of the water, pushed around by the lightest gust of wind or calm waves. The Sopras Sub float actually dips into the water so that a small section is underwater. This reduces the center of gravity and allows it to remain stable in the water, like a tree that’s firmly rooted to the ground.
Spacious: The Sopras Dive Buoy has enough surface space that numerous freedivers can simultaneously rest on it between dives. Great for diving with friends.
Convenient Straps: Since it is so spacious, it also features four straps on each side for freedivers to hoist themselves onto the buoy to rest after surfacing. The straps make bringing it back to the boat much easier.
High Visibility: The Sopras Sub Freediver buoy comes in a bright red color which has a high contrast against the blue ocean, making it easily visible to boats and other divers because it sticks out like a sore thumb. Boat operators will know to steer clear of that general vicinity so you can freedive with relative peace of mind.
Numerous Pockets: Store various small items such as first aid kits, whistles, sunglasses, smartphones, etc., in the pockets of this dive buoy.
Inflatable with Your Mouth: You don’t need to use a scuba hose to inflate the Sopras Sub FreeDive buoy, whereas most diving buoys require one. The less equipment you need, the better, and you can think of inflating the buoy by mouth as a good warm-up routine.
With all of the benefits that the Sopras Sub FreeDiver buoy provides, it shouldn’t be a surprise that it costs more compared to other freediving floats and lines. However, you get what you pay for, and it is a small price to pay considering your life is literally on the line.
Cheaper buoys are abundant on the market and they are cheap for a reason. As we mentioned above, they are often made with low-quality, ultra-thin and weak materials. They have no weight in the water and get blown around like a leaf in the wind.
Personally, I’m more of a buy-it-for-life kind of guy. When I choose to buy something, I’d rather pay more upfront knowing it’ll last me for years than something that will break down after a couple months of use.
For this reason, I highly recommend the Sopras Dive buoy. Thanks to the 200D nylon material it is constructed from, it feels extremely sturdy yet lightweight at the same time. You can have peace of mind knowing that this buoy has got your back. Don’t waste money on a cheap knock-off product when you can get the real deal, and this is it.
Best Freediving Line: OMER Orange Float Line
A freediving buoy is just one part of the equation, you also need to pair it up with a float line. We recommend the OMER orange float line, which is very durable and capable of withstanding the wear and tear of any pulling, tugging or travelling you will subject it to. Its bright orange fluorescent color will lead you through low-visibility conditions underwater.
Furthermore, the OMER orange float line includes a detachable Tuna Clip that can secure any object tightly so you won’t lose it against the crashing waves. Lastly, you can also use a diving lanyard to help you hold additional items.
Additional Freediving Buoys to Look Into
For those shopping with a limited budget, you can still get high-quality floats if you do some research. We recommend the Double Bladder Spearfishing float for a mid-range float. It is constructed from 400D Urethane Nylon and is also orally inflatable, which is convenient for many freedivers.
Next, freedivers who constantly travel should look into the Torpedo Buoy. This buoy already includes a line, but it’s also very convenient to deflate and pack up which is ideal for those frequently on the move. When it’s time to use it, just take it out of your bag and orally inflate it.
For the casual freediver that wants to occasionally do some coastal exploration and recreational dives, even using a basic surface marker is better than nothing. The DiveSmart Surface Marker Buoy fits this bill with its small, yet highly visible design. Priced to be affordable, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t at least set some kind of marker in areas with heavy boat traffic. The compact design is great for storage and taking it with you on travels.
Lastly, for those who not only freedive but also do some spearfishing, the SEAC Spearfishing Buoy is a great choice for both activities. Spearfishing requires more gear than freediving, therefore Spearos need a float that can store their extra gear.
As such, SEAC have come up with a multi-purpose float that not only acts as a marker, but also doubles as a storage unit with its various pockets, and Velcro straps to secure your spearguns, dive knives, and other accessories. The large surface area of the SEAC buoy provides a resting place for you if you need it, and it can also be used to hold the fish.
Additionally, the SEAC Sea Mate inflatable boat includes 7 D-rings for convenient anchoring, and is particularly useful for holding or fixing your equipment.
How to Set Up the Freediving Buoy and Line
We highly recommend you check out this video for an in-depth look at how to set up a freediving buoy and line.
Below is a brief summary of what the video covers.
To set up a freediving buoy and line properly, you will need the following: the dive buoy, the line, some ropes, weights, heavy-duty carabiners, and a nylon strap or weight belt.
Secure the Float
Securing the dive buoy is easy when you are in shallower water. In this situation, you can just anchor the float to a rock, or the attached weight will anchor the setup in place. Things get trickier when the water is deeper and you are starting off from a boat.
In this scenario, you must secure the the buoy to the boat using rope (not the same one you plan to use as the line). Connect the D-ring on the buoy to the rope, and tie the other end to the boat.
Prepare the Line
The freediving line will serve as your guide through dark, murky waters. It should be a thick, non-stretching rope that is tangle-resistant. You should mark it every 5m (16 ft.) to help you keep track of your depth at a glance. Next, secure the end of the line to the D-ring found on the bottom of the buoy using a sturdy carabiner to keep it in place.
Attach the Weight
To ensure the line stays taut, you need to attach weights to it. You can use standard diving weights placed in a bag, a freediving belt, or a durable nylon buckle. Attach your preferred weight to the other end of the line with a heavy-duty carabiner and check that the knot is secure.
Some freedivers have successfully used weightlifting plates as an alternate option, though this is complicated to handle. The key is to use a bottom plate beneath the weights. This setup is often seen in competitions. You can affix tags on the holes around the edge of the bottom plate. The competitors need to retrieve these tags and bring them up to the judges, otherwise the dive is considered invalid.
Double-Check the Carabiners and Knots
Before you throw the line and weights into the water, check if any knots have come loose and if the carabiners are in place. For added security, you can attach yourself to the line with a freediving lanyard.
Why You Need a Freediving Float Recap
A high-quality freediving float and line makes this activity a whole lot more enjoyable and safer. Many freedivers lsnorkose their lives every year because they were struck by boats or lost track of where they were underwater and couldn’t resurface in time. A dive buoy is a relatively cheap investment that can help you avoid all of this.
Thanks to its high visibility, boat operators will know to avoid areas marked by a dive flag or buoy. Furthermore, dive buoys provide a place for you and other freedivers to rest as well as a storage space for small accessories. It’s important for you to conserve your energy and fully rest between dives to ensure your safety.
Furthermore, with a freediving buoy, you can feed a freediving line through it and use it as an underwater guide. This simple tool can help you dive straight down and up without getting lost. You can also mark the line every few meters to help you keep track of your depth when diving.
It may seem annoying having to set up a freediving buoy each time you head out to the water, but this piece of equipment can literally save your life. In our opinion, when it comes to safety, you can never be too careful and any amount of time or money invested towards properly using a safety device is well worth it.